Over the last two days, both Mark Crislip and Jann Bellamy wrote great pieces over at Science-Based Medicine about reiki. In particular, Jann Bellamy discussed reiki starting with an example that I've been citing in my talks about the infiltration of quackademic medicine into medical academia for at least four or five years now: The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and its website, which describes reiki thusly:
Reiki is a form of hands-on, natural healing that uses universal life force energy. The term comes from the Japanese words “rei,” which translates into universal, and “ki,” which means vital life force energy that flows through all living things. This gentle energy is limitless in abundance and is believed to be a spiritual form of energy. It is not tied to any specific religion or nationality.
The Reiki practitioner is the conduit between you and the source of the universal life force energy. The energy flows through the practitioner’s energy field and through his or her hands to you. The energy does not come from the practitioner; it comes through the practitioner from the universal source. There is no energy drain on the person giving the treatment. You may experience the energy as sensations such as heat, tingling, or pulsing where the practitioner places her hands on your body, or you may feel these sensations move through your body to other locations. This is the energy flowing into you. Some people may not perceive any change at all. Most people feel very relaxed and peaceful. Many clients even fall asleep while receiving Reiki treatment.
The way I like to handle this during a talk is to place an excerpt from the above two paragraphs onto a slide and just let the audience soak in the stupidity. Generally, they react with utter shock that a respected academic medical center would have something so unbelievably ridiculous on their website. I then continue my talk by explaining how reiki is faith healing that substitutes Eastern mysticism for Christian beliefs. Think about it. In reiki, reiki masters claim to be able to tap into "life force energy" from the "universal source," as described above, and channel it into a patient for healing effect. Now, substitute the word "God" or "Jesus" for "universal source" in the description above. Yes, that's faith healing. Stripped to its essence, there's no difference between reiki and channeling the healing power of Jesus or God into a patient to try to heal him.
That's why the Catholic Church doesn't like reiki being practiced in its hospitals, and that's why fundamentalist Christians view reiki as a "sin."
Next, I list some of the high profile medical schools and academic medical centers that offer reiki to patients, the most recent of which I discussed was the University of Arizona Cancer Center. It's a depressing litany that includes luminaries such as M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Yale University (sorry, Steve Novella!), and Harvard, among many others.
Going back and reading about reiki again after having seen Jann's discussion of whether advertising reiki as medicine could be viewed as fraud and whether there a class action lawsuit charging that could actually succeed, I came upon a hilarious article on reiki that helps to illustrate just how utterly nonsensical the ideas behind reiki are. Now, I've discussed how reiki isn't really any "ancient" Japanese art of healing, having been invented out of whole cloth by a man named Mikao Usui back in the 1920s. I'm referring to an article on About.com's Holistic Healing page by Phylameana lila Desy entitled Projecting Reiki Energies into Past and Future.
Whoa. Maybe Bill S. Preston and Ted "Theodore" Logan were reiki masters, and that's how Wyld Stallyns saved the world and brought about universal peace and harmony—or, actually, how they will bring about universal peace and harmony in the future. One wonders if a telephone booth is involved.
Yes, I can (and have) made all sorts of jokes about this sort of thing based on movies and TV shows involving time travel, such as Back to the Future, Doctor Who, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and the like, but none of my lame jokes can compare to the reality of this article, because, not only can reiki masters project reiki energy over any distance, but into the future and the past:
Reiki energies can be transmitted into the future as well as into the past.
A few examples for projecting Reiki into the future include job interviews, before scheduled surgical procedures, and prior to upcoming court sessions. Walking into an interview, a meeting hall, a courtroom, a new school, a social gathering, or anywhere else is less intimidating when Reiki energies your sent previously greet you at the door.
I bet. It'd probably be kind of embarrassing if you're standing in front of a judge and suddenly a bolt of reiki energy hit you out of the blue, leaving whatever wormhole through space-time through which it traveled to zap you to attention. That'd be a bummer. Maybe I could learn how to project a bit of that old reiki energy to the future for when I'm doing surgery, so that my hands are even swifter and surer than usual. Oh, wait. I'd have to become a reiki master first to do that. Never mind.
Of course, if that's not enough, there's this:
Sending Reiki backwards in time is also beneficial. Simply use your intent to send to a specific past event that was troublesome. Or, focus the energies on healing your inner child at the exact moment she was injured years previously. An easy way to do this is to hold an old photo between your palms while conducting absentia Reiki. Choose a photo that was taken of you as a child around the period of time you are wanting to heal. (Tip: Place the photo inside an envelope to protect your photo from sweaty palms).
I do so like the added tip. Very practical. You wouldn't want to grub up an old photo that might not be replaceable, now would you?
Imagine the possibilities, though. It would be so awesome to be able to send magic fairy dust energy back into my past at key points in my life, either where I suffered a trauma or where I screwed up royally, in order to fix what's wrong. But wouldn't there be a paradox? Aren't those traumas and screwups part of what make me what I am? Would I even be able to be Orac anymore if my inner child were made all shiny and happy decades ago through the wonder of time-traveling reiki magic? Apparently not:
Targeting Reiki energies to be sent to the original hurt is also helpful in healing any reactive influences that resulted from that time. For example, whenever offering healing to a hurtful event in the past you are also clearing away carried-over traumas felt present day.
Of course. How obvious. Why didn't I think of that? Actually, I know why. I have critical thinking skills and know science. On the other hand, maybe I don't have to worry. Reiki masters are apparently aware of the dangers of sending reiki back in time. One even worried that sending reiki back in time, in this case, to stop an epidemic in Japan in 1830 that was wiping out an entire species of dung fly, to save it. Doing this thought experiment, he discovered:
Having heard much about using the Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen symbol to send Reiki to the past, I decided to try an experiment, and did as she requested - but still, only one single dung-fly survived the epidemic.
However, that single dung-fly - reinvigourated by the Reiki it had received - flew off and landed on a piece of uncooked meat which was lying uncovered in the kitchen of Mikao Usui's Grandfather's house.
The next day, the meat which was now infected with various strains of unnamed bacteria, was hurriedly (and improperly) cooked and eaten by Mikao Usui's Grandfather. A few hours later he began to feel a little queazy, and decided to cancel his visit to the 'Noh' theatre that evening, and went to bed with a bottle of saki as he thought this might help settle his stomach - and even if it didn't, it was a good excuse to get drunk.
Now, HAD he gone to the theatre that night he would have met the woman he was going to marry - the woman who would become Mikao Usui's Grandmother.
But as it turned out, he never met her - never married at all - never had any children - devoted his entire life to campaging for food hygiene and wandering from town to town the length and breath of Japan educating people to the dangers of leaving uncooked meat where the flies could get it.
Thus, Mikao Usui's father was never born, and of course this meant that Mikao was never born either - and never went on to 'discover' Reiki.
Then, of course, James Deacon, the guy who wrote the piece, would never have been able to learn reiki to send it back into the past in the first place. Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe sending reiki into the past wouldn't be so bad after all. (Wait a minute. What is this, a Terminator movie or a Ray Bradbury story?)
Be that as it may, it's not entirely clear whether that article was meant to be facetious. Clearly on some level it was, but on another level, the rest of the website appears to be quite serious and credulous about reiki, as do Deacon's Reiki Pages on Facebook. Still, serious or not, this is the sort of stuff reiki masters claim, and this is the sort of stuff academic medical centers like the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard University, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center are selling the public.
Seeing that depresses the hell out of me.
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Kilogram meters squared per second squared, kids.
I really do think that it's a mistake for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and other outfits involved with medical education to be cutting back on the physics requirements for premeds.
All the good doctors I've ever had said they really liked physics, and it's a tremendous way to develop problem-solving skills. And knowing physics tends to make you more grounded, and hopefully less susceptible to this kind of ridiculous BS.
You can also be more grounded if you wear a wrist strap wired to a water pipe, but that's a whole other story.
Kilogram meters squared per second squared, kids
May the F = ma be with you as well, because is sure isn't where I did my pediatric residency training (U of AZ), where F(arce) = ha when it comes to reiki (http://uanews.org/story/college-medicine-researcher-studies-ancient-met…). Including in this article, which will raise the hackles of any physicist (like me) is the statement that: It appears that the practice not only reduces stress, but balances the body’s energies. Self-practice of Reiki can cause blood flow in the fingertips to increase or decrease depending on whether the flow was low or high at the beginning of the session. I do believe my body balances it energies quite well without reiki--otherwise I'd be peeing sparks.
As a physicist I am appalled. Same goes as a physician.
That only takes a few weekends and some cash, Orac. Much easier to attain than to actually learn how to heal people.
So, for reiki to be correct, both thermodynamics and special relativity would have to be utterly wrong. These two physics theories have been thoroughly tested and so far have passed every test. Reiki, not so much.
That dung fly story is a standard kind of time travel paradox story. I've read several of those. The trouble with Bradbury's story is that the changes are so small: they bring the main character back to a world which differs from the world he left only in standard English spelling practice and which of the two candidates won the presidential election. Other stories leave our time traveler trapped in the past, because he has changed history in such a way that the time travel apparatus will not have been built.
Chris @2 -- I should've known you trained in physics, because you seem to be such a damn good doctor. If I had any un-grownup kids, and I lived in Tucson, I know who I'd be taking them to ...
The few local (Seattle area) hospitals that I'm familiar with do offer things like reiki, healing touch and music therapy all as part of their palliative care programs. It's referred to as "Comfort Measures" with no curative claims made and they don't charge for it. Personally, I don't support such modalities but it seems like a good system.
This person, who refused all conventional treatments for her triple-negative IDC, uses Reiki as part of her "lifestyle change."
Her husband is totally on board. And she has a six year old.
That seems like a novel gloss.
I had a very difficult- but entertaining- time trying to conjure a mental image of Orac ( or of his 'friend') in training to be a reiki practitioner.
It might be captioned "DO NOT WANT!"
At any rate, one of the woo-meisters I survey purports to be an effective energy healer-
for you see, everything we encounter in life is merely an "energy exchange"- if you learn something important from a teacher, become sexually attracted to a person or interact with a child- it's all an energy exchange and nothing more.
Supposedly the woo-meister is descended matrilineally from a long line of energy healers/ medical intuitives in the American South who pray and are able to predict medical outcomes- with their eyes wide open: no "sleeping prophets" they- as they pass their hands over a supplicant. They may also 'adjust' another person's incapacitated energy patterns by synchronising them with their own perfected energy patterns- this is achieved by a laying on of hands. He recounts seeing long queues of *malades*on the doorstep awaiting his mother's ministrations as a sanctified, justified human tuning fork.
Reportedly, subjects of this arcane attunement feel a sudden jolt and then recover from illness or find that their life has been re-directed onto a new, and better, path. Or so say those who record testimonials after experiencing this mind-body phenomenon at one of his health retreats.
Like Rife, he adds that each illness has its own unique frequency; each herb and plant does also. Energy healers instinctively know what to perscribe for each condition - playing "matchy-matchy", Iassume. People can emit either good, healing vibrations or awful, malignant, destructive energy: his own psi research has shown how specific people can heal or harm sick animals or facilliate or inhibit the growth of plants: each person also has a signature energy pattern- inborn and immutable for life. A school of personality psychology has been founded upon this notion and asks:" Who are you REALLY?"
Right now, someone is peering over my shoulder and asking if I am joking.
I'm afraid not: I merely report.
"Choose a photo that was taken of you as a child around the period of time you are wanting to heal. (Tip: Place the photo inside an envelope to protect your photo from sweaty palms)."
This is so outdated. I'm tempted to write an app that does this on a smart phone or tablet. You retrieve the photo from your photo album or cloud storage and press the 'Heal' button. No risks due to sweaty palms, and healing proceeds in the background while you go about your daily routine.
Since qi isn't physical you can implement it all in software. No need for a hardware-based qi modem in the phone. For a small premium the app can have a feature that will energize all your Facebook friends.
But there is one security issue. When you download the app you'll see this message:
WARNING: This app requires permission to tap into your life force. Press Ok to continue.
Speaking as a non-fundamentalist Christian, have no more problem with reiki than I do with prayer - when used by family, friends, and the patient as a coping mechanism it brings comfort to some, as Rob pointed out.
It's when either is substituted for real medical care that I want to start throwing things.
The ultimate time-travel paradox story would have to be "All You Zombies", by Robert Heinlein. It's available for free on the Web. ;-) (Also a bit dated, as many things set in the not-too-distant future become, but the basic paradox within it still works.)
Reiki and therapeutic touch annoy me greatly. But the idea of sending reiki energy through time cracks me up. ;-) I wonder what the Doctor would think? I suspect he'd be unimpressed at their naively linear approach to spacetime.
"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect... but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly.... timey-wimey.... stuff."
I suspect the Doctor would point out that interfering with your own timeline breaks the first law of time, attracts Reapers and risks the Blinovitch Limitation Effect.
I also suspect Sapphire and Steel would intervene to prevent this sort of thing. Which might be a good argument for taking up transtemporal Reiki if it meant a young Joanna Lumley turning up to stop you...
When the well-respected Cleveland Clinic legitimizes this stuff the whole world seems to take notice. Remember CCF's endorsement of Chinese herbal medicine? Only a few weeks later I saw this reference to CCF's herbal treatment program on an unrelated but popular "health and wellness" website:
"This is exciting news, not because it is the first clinic to offer Chinese herbal remedies alongside conventional medical care (a significant number of centers already do so), but because the Cleveland Clinic has long been considered one of the most prestigious conventional medical institutions in the world. Its embrace of Chinese botanical medicines as administered by licensed traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners represents the potential for added therapeutic benefit for patients, as well as a major leap forward for the field of integrative medicine."
A major leap forward?
One can leap forward and be carried backwards by the prevailing nonsense.
A major leap forward?
They couldn't call it a "great leap forward", because the last one was such a terrific advance toward the rear.
I suspect, however, that "major" would be translated to Chinese as "da", which means "big" or "great". The character for "da" is one of the easiest Chinese characters for Americans to remember: it looks like a stick figure telling a fish story ("It was this big!").
OT but -
it's late on Friday, I just finished reading interesting travel material, put away frozen groceries and oh crap, it's drizzling again..
so I thought why not take a look at Jake's claptr... I mean his *newest announcement*.. and I ask you sincerely:
is that EVER TRULY OT @ RI?
I didn't think so.
"Cover-up Scandal: CDC's Vaccine Research Exposed as Flawed and Falsified"
Yes, Brian Hooker's on the case and Barry Segal calls for an investigation and a ban on thimerisol ( A Shot of Truth; Focus Autism)
So what else is new besides New South Wales, Newfoundland, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico....
You are overlooking the key point, which is that you create your own reality with consciousness. Because quantum.
" I’m tempted to write an app that does this on a smart phone or tablet. You retrieve the photo from your photo album or cloud storage and press the ‘Heal’ button. No risks due to sweaty palms, and healing proceeds in the background while you go about your daily routine."
I don't recall if I mentioned this before, but you can buy a Rife frequency app in the Itunes store:
"iRife Detox turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a hand-held Rife Frequency Generator for Detox purposes."
"...It is not tied to any specific religion or nationality."
Well, they're being honest, the extent to which that statement can be said of something that doesn't exist.
And yes, it's distressing that my alma mater, U of A med, home of Andy Weil, is involved in this nonsense.......
Ah, yes, the screwball "secret" symbols. Here one runs into some trouble:
"Because there is no time limitations, Reiki Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen can be sent thousands of miles; it can be sent to repeat at a particular time, or even be sent into the past or the future. This is helpful when healing Karmic differences which hold us in the cycle of reincarnation. Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen completes the Karma and releases it.
"By directing the images of the present to heal the past, more Karma is released permanently. Each piece of Karma that is lifted, eliminates the need to resolve it through reincarnation."
I was surprised at the popularity of this notion among reikistas. One assumes that this is supposed to refer to the Buddhist notion of karma, given, you know, Hinduism's not holding a great deal of sway in early 20th century Japan.
But that, of course, is not how it works, at least by the time we get to China and the Tun-huang manuscripts. This is epitomized by the tale of Mu-lien (Maudgalyāyana) rescuing his mother from hell and the similar – perhaps derivative – one of his trying to save the Śākyas from massacre using magic. Here's part of Hsu Yun's version:
"The boy cherished a grudge against the men and when he became king, he led his soldiers to attack Kapila, killing all its inhabitants.... When His disciples asked Him to rescue the poor inhabitants, the Buddha replied that a fixed Karma could not be changed. By means of his miraculous powers, Maudgalyāyana rescued five hundred Śākya clansmen and thought he could give them refuge in his own bowl which was raised up in the air. When the bowl was brought down, all the men had been turned into blood."
Karma beats magic every time. Time-traveling is magic. Reiki loses. As it happens, the contemporary Seon popularizer Seung Sahn related a version of this story, although Maudgalyāyana becomes Mong Nyon (which I haven't figured out yet), and the punchline is "It is impossible to make merited karma disappear."
This is actually an odd rendering;* combined with reiki, it becomes unique. Behold The Pine Cone Intiation. This has got nearly everything.
"This radiant point in the pine cone is your own merkaba, starship, or tardis.... By conscious thought intention, you can launch this pine cone out through the soft spot at the top of the head. You are actually launching the 'etheric holographic pine cone' that overlays the physical pineal gland.... What is helpful is that the pine cone activates a genetic code inside you that makes this easy and natural."
* Indeed, the whole Virūḍhaka massacre version is odd, as it seems to imply group karma.
^ ("Sadhguru" warns against pitting reiki vs. karma on his Sacred YouTube channel.)
I don't agree that it's ok to do this stuff as long as you don't use it in place of real treatment or charge for it. That's commendable, but no proper medical facility should indulge in quackery--it's a gooey slippery slope. If people must have their "feel goods", they should get them elsewhere.
Outside of the tales of the Doctor in his TARDIS, my favorite time travel story (of sorts) is the novel Replay
There is a school of thought that says you can't go back and change your timeline, because you DIDN'T go back and change your timeline. Or, as the Doctor would say, you can't cross your own timeline.
Time travel makes for very fine fiction, and I've much enjoyed some of it. It makes lousy medicine.
See, the "to heal past trauma" thing is actually a bit worrying, because it might convince people that reiki toootally works. Because that one might, just not because of reiki.
One of the legitimate ways to work through trauma more or less amounts to thinking about the traumatic event, going through it in your mind until repetition dulls the pain, and all the traumatic associations are worn down by boredom, kinda thing.
If you take an object that reminds you of the trauma, and sit and think about the traumatic thing while focussing on a positive, calming emotional state, that will quite possibly help you quite a lot with coming to terms with it. (Note: do not substitute this comment or the ideas therein for genuine psychological treatment!)
The reiki part is bullshit, obviously, but confirmation bias is a terrible thing.
If they really believe this, why aren't they reaching into the past to heal people's diabetes before it costs them limbs, and their high blood pressure before they have strokes? Selfish pikers, I call them.
I have already learned enough about Reiki to know it has no plausibility whatsoever, Notwithstanding any placebo effects, I view it as pure BS like homeopathy. The engineer in me can't help but think that we should be able to measure these magical waves that a a reiki 'healer' emits with relatively simple tools like Grant Imahara used on Mythbiusters when he employed a Faraday cage. Other than basic heat or millivolts from our brainwaves, I can't imagine a mechanism that a reiki 'healer' employes to direct these to a human subject to facilitate a healing process.
I remember when a young lady announced to me that she was a Reiki Master, I had to do everything I could to maintain my composure. How anyone moves from being a reiki noob to a master when in fact no verification(s) are performed (or scientifically possible) during any part of the 'educational' process is simply beyond me. Oh whoa is us, the human race when we are faced with such feeble-mindedness.
i nominate Vicki for today's Internetz award!
I gave up on time travel. My luggage kept winding up in Pangaea, and it took like forever for them to get it back to me.
Two words: "geomagnetic probe."
On Reiki as part of cancer care.
Moga, M.M., W.F. Bengston (2010) Anomalous magnetic field activity during a bioenergy healing experiment. Journal of Scientific Exploration 24(3): 397-410.
Moga, M.M. (2013) http://terrehaute.medicine.iu.edu/files/3113/9517/8700/Healing_Waves_Mo…
Moga, M.M. (2014) Magnetic field activity during psychic healing: A preliminary study with Healing Touch practitioners. Journal of Nonlocality, in press.
Moga, M.M. (2014) Exploratory study of low-frequency magnetic field activity during Healing Touch, guided progressive relaxaton and mock Healing Touch. International Journal of Healing and Caring, in press.
Yessiree, Sandra, we can learn a lot from those distinguished journals.
My personal fave is the Journal of Scientific Exploration, which has featured many good articles on phenomena They don't want us to know about. Past gems include "Analysis of a UFO Photograph", "Periodically Flashing Lights Filmed Off the Coast of New Zealand" and "Three New Cases of Reincarnation Types in Sri Lanka With Written Records".*
*For some reason I imagine that last title as spoken by Groucho Marx (who once requested a band play "Somewhere My Love Lies Sleeping" with a male chorus).
Bengston and the Journal of Scientific Exploration are so 2012.
Oh lord, not Bengston again. Hey Sandra, 2 of those 'citations' are unreadable, one is an unpublished review, and the only published one (albeit in a laughable journal) concludes "we have not ruled out an artifactual basis for the oscillations reported here."
This is the extent of the evidence base for the magical waves, Sandra? This is the basis you've used to decide that cancer patients should have access to this utter nonsense?
Advertising copy from a self-proclaimed Reiki Master. Really?
From Sandra's link @34 comes this uncited gem.
Two of Sandra's citations refer to Healing Touch with is incompatible with Reiki since Reiki practitioners have to be attuned by Reiki masters before they can shoot magic energy out of their hands while performing healing touch only requires self-delusion.
"Self-practice of Reiki can cause blood flow in the fingertips to increase or decrease depending on whether the flow was low or high at the beginning of the session."
Regression to the mean?
Not even that - more like heads I win, tails you lose. If the blood flow is lower at the end, it must have been "high" at the beginning and if it is higher at the end, it must have been "low" at the beginning. They are pre-defining any change as being in right direction.
I credited them with too much honesty.
From Sandra, #34, June 18, 2014, we have this URL:
Can anyone imagine what the "pd" prefix in the directory name stands for?
It's probably just a reference to the pdf format, but I suppose it could be Pretty Darn Funny.
MA #40: so if a Reiki Master and a Healing Touch person meet and have an energy duel we would get something like the Voldemort vs Harry Potter duel in Goblet of Fire?
I don't think that a duel of such subtle energies would be visible to mere mortals like us.
The duel in Harry Potter HAS to be visible to mere mortals or else they won't pay the price of admission.
"On Reiki as part of cancer care."
Why don't they send the Reiki energy back in time and prevent the cancer from ever occurring? That's the kind of cancer care I want to see.
Since the alties are always lambasting "conventional medicine" for focusing on cures rather than prevention you would think they would make more use of preventative time traveling Reiki.
When I picture a duel between a reiki master and a healing touch person, this is what I see http://youtu.be/22Tj_l4PcPs I don't remember how to make it a link, and I'm too tired to look it up, you'll have to copy and paste.
Oh, it did it automatically. I thought you used to have to put in html code.
Sandra, I would have thought that my mentioning the "geomagnetic probe" in the first place would have obviated the first reference (BTW, you might notice something wrong with the Fig. 2 legend). Is the assertion that this is the original instrument or something?
Is there some reason that some healing energy can't be shot over to the Journal of Nonlocality to disclose the issue date for this item "in press"?
I had trouble with your link, but think this is what you want:
"It's not cancer, it's GROWTH!"
"It’s not cancer, it’s GROWTH!" and it is EMPOWERING (after it has been re-contextualized).
That wouldn't be the same Bengston who proved that energy healing is just as effective as doing nothing at all, when his control group mice (which received no healing energy) survived just as long as the experimental group mice which received healing energy. would it Sandra?
(I keep meaning to subscribe to the Journal of Nonlocality, but I can't seem to find their mailing address...)
You are doing it wrong. One does not subscribe to the Journal of Nonlocality, one remote views it.
@ #53 That's the one, thanks.
It's very appropriate!
@Bill Price #44
I see what you did there :)